China to bankroll data centre, ships

The government is set to establish a national data centre and procure six ships with concessional loans from China.

The cabinet committee on economic affairs is likely to consider the two proposals from the ICT Division and the shipping ministry, for which the Export-Import Bank of China will provide $338 million in loans at 2 percent interest.

The repayment period for the loan will be 20 years, with a five-year grace period, said an official of the finance ministry.

The data centre will be set up on the premises of Kaliakoir hi-tech park in Gazipur, as part of the government’s vision of a Digital Bangladesh by 2021, said an official of the ICT Division.

Under the project, a high performance, well-structured and well-protected four-tier data centre will be established, which the government, non-government and foreign multinational companies can use to store data.

The data centre will be the sixth largest in the world, said the official.

China has nominated state-owned ZTE Holdings Company and ZTE Corporation for setting up the data centre, according to the proposal from the ICT Division.

ZTE Corporation on behalf of the two companies has already conducted a feasibility study free of cost.

The two companies will set up the data centre for $154 million in a direct purchase method that will be financed by the Chinese Exim Bank under the concessional loan arrangement.

The remaining $184 million of the $338 million-loan will be used to purchase six ships for the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC). The ships will be supplied by the China National Machinery Import & Export Corporation (CMC).

An official of the shipping ministry said the CMC first demanded around $208 million for the six ships but the ministry through several rounds of negotiations managed to bring down the figure to $184 million. Of the six ships, three are oil tankers and three bulk carriers.

At present, BSC has a fleet of only eight ships, the average age of which are over 30 years, said the proposal from the shipping ministry.

No ship was added to the fleet since 1991 due to the high prices, which the government could not afford with its own resources. Now, an initiative is being taken to procure ships with foreign loans.